TALES OF BRITAIN:
THE ORIGINAL UNBOUND PITCH
The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.
There are currently no books which bring together the ancient stories of England, Scotland, Wales and the Isles, and particularly none that aim, above all, to entertain the largest audience possible. There are lots of localised anthologies and expensive academic works, mythology-based books which remain ghetto-ised as ‘Special Interest’. But in this time of Brexit-based disunity, we believe that one thing which has always brought the people of this island together is our shared culture, and particularly our national treasury of tales, which have been retold afresh for each generation.
Each one of the 77 stories to be found in TALES OF BRITAIN – from the folktales of Dick Whittington, Robin Hood and King Arthur to heroes who deserve to be better known, like Mollie Whuppie, Bran the Blessed and Jack O’Kent – has been forged in performance to find the 21st century retelling to grab today’s audience, no matter what their age, gender, sexuality or creed. Some tales are moving, some bawdy, some downright weird, but above all, they have been retold with a crucial sense of anarchic fun, while restoring the true root of every legend in a way which should appeal to every Briton, whether first generation or thousandth – or indeed, lovers of great stories all around the world, from any background.
Inspiration for these Tales’ delivery comes not just from the magic of Dahl and Rowling, but the Grim Tales anarchy of Rik Mayall and Anthony Horowitz, the warmth of John Hurt’s Storyteller, and the enthusiasm of Tony Robinson’s Odysseus. What the Grimms did for German folklore, TALES OF BRITAIN will do for the British – with the added bonus that each story is rooted in the landscape, and so a tourist guide is provided for every tale, encouraging everyone to visit the places where each story ‘really happened’. Enjoy the tale on a Tuesday, and on Sunday afternoon, you can relive it.
This is not just a book, but a campaign, to enhance Britain’s standing as an island full of ancient story magic, and to revive and celebrate the shared culture of the United Kingdom, in a time of political uncertainty – and, above all, to have a lot of fun with it. With the enthusiastic support of #FolkloreThursday and an ever-growing online community of compassionate Britophiles and story lovers, this TALES OF BRITAIN collection is almost ready to share, and can be designed and released by Unbound as soon as the pledge target hits!
Born in Ludlow in 1978 and graduating from Aberystwyth University in 2000, Jem Roberts has a publishing heritage which goes back over 20 years, with extensive magazine experience – as well as being a performer, with shows all round the United Kingdom.
Although he has made himself the biographer of choice for comedy’s elite – the official, authorised historian for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Blackadder, Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and now Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, in 2017’s Soupy Twists – Jem has been a committed children’s writer for a lot longer.
As a journalist, he edited titles including Pokémon World, Disney & Me and Disney’s Puzzle Land, and has been a contributor as storyteller for further publications – Muffin the Mule, Disney Girl, Winnie the Pooh and many more. His short story ‘Little Wee’ (about a very annoying baby llama) was published as part of charity fairytale collection Homespun Threads in 2012, and he continues to write his own tales as well as adapting traditional ones.
These Tales of Britain are also performed live at folky, family and all kinds of events, with Jem as Brother Bernard, and children’s TV star Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder, Shaun the Sheep) as Sister Sal, and a podcast audiobook project is currently in the works.
Jem Roberts lives in Bath, and finds the idea of moving very stressful.